Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

Series: The Call, Book One
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Format: ARC**
Published: 1st September 2016
Number of Pages: 336
Book: For Review*
Genre: Fantasy, Mythical, Horror, Thriller, Suspense, Action-Adventure, YA
Recommended Age: 14+
Contains: Violence, Death, Smoking, Drug References
No Alcohol References

“Your people drove them out of their homes.  Thousands of years later they turn up again – and they’re gonna wipe you out.”
Three minutes...
On her birthday, Nessa finds out the terrible truth about her homeland, Ireland – the truth that will change her future forever.
Two minutes...
That she and her friends must train for the most dangerous three minutes of their lives: THE CALL.
One minute...
That any day now, without warning, they will each wake in a terrifying land, aloe and hunted, with a one in ten chance of returning alive.
And it is Nessa, more than anyone, who is going to need every ounce of guts, wit, and sheer spirit she was born with, if she – and the nation – are to survive.

I’m going to warn you all now: this review will be excited and fangirly and maybe a little long.  But I’ve been waiting for a book like The Call for over a decade now and I want everyone, the whole world, to know how bloody brilliant it is.  Plus I'm taking part in the blog tour tomorrow and my fangirling has reached fever pitch so I doubt I could stop myself even if I wanted to...
“Some time during her adolescence, the Sídhe will come for her, as they come these days for everyone.  They will hunt her down, and if she fails to outrun them, Nessa will die...
A very long time ago, the Irish made a treaty with the Sídhe, banishing them under the mounds, stealing their land and trapping them in a world without colour.
Now, the Sídhe are taking revenge.  By going after Ireland's children.  All teenagers get Called, vanishing from our world for three minutes and four seconds, whisked off the land of the Sídhe, where they are hunted down.  Few return in one piece, let alone alive.  And those that live are rarely the same.
Nessa was ten when she found out about the Call.  Her parents cried when they told her, neither believing she even had a chance.  Because, you see, Nessa had polio as a child and it has left her legs twisted, weak.  But in that moment, Nessa makes a declaration: "I'm going to live." 
Since then, she has trained alongside others her age.  No one believes she will survive, or that there's even any point to her training – after all, how is she meant to survive when she can't even keep up with her own classmates, let alone outrun a vengeful Sídhe? 
No one believes but Nessa.  She will survive the Grey Land.
But things are changing.  Whole schools are being slaughtered by killers who shrink into nothingness.  A rock appears from nowhere, a shrinking woman trapped inside.  Ireland is changing and they will need all the strength they can gather, if the Nation is to survive...
People who have met me will know I'm in a wheelchair.  I've been in the wheelchair since the age of twelve, or thereabouts, but I've had the neurological disorder since I was three.  I've always been different and, especially with the chair, people often treat you differently – think you're less able.  I like to think of myself just as capable as the next person, the difference being I find my own way to achieve the task.
For years, I’ve been campaigning for more diversity in books, especially regarding disabilities.  And my dream is to have disabled characters mixed in amongst the cast, have it as naturally occurring as hair colour or accents.  And so, when offered the chance to review an advanced copy of The Call, I jumped on the opportunity with glee.  I've wanted a disabled character as the protagonist for so long – and God, The Call was worth the wait.  From the very first chapter, I was utterly enraptured.  I fell in love with this awful world and the brilliant characters – especially Nessa, who was so different from your usual YA heroine and so much more amazing because of these differences.  
But let's move on from the awesomeness that is the diverse disability factor because even without that, The Call would have been phenomenal.  The world building was amazing, the feelings of suspense and dread and fear grew with every page, the characters were diverse and painfully real, the writing was beautiful, the plot gripping and the perfect pace, full of Calls and fights and mysteries...  It was like A Court of Thorns and Roses meets The Hunger Games, only no one is safe from being Called and there's no guarantee that one victor will survive the Sídhe's games.
Crom, I honestly can't even tell you all how much I adored this book.  I just...  I am just so utterly in love with it, even though it scared me half to death and broke my heart and left me desperate for more more more.
Nessa is the character I've been waiting for.  Tough, brave, stubborn as hell and probably the strongest character I've ever read about.  Everyone treated her differently, pitied her, just assumed she was doomed, but Nessa never gave up.  She wasn't always the most compassionate or even, I guess, likeable character – but she was brave and good and by far the most amazing 'disabled' character I've ever met.  I'll even forgive her stereotypical lead YA gal perfect beauty, which isn't something I do lightly!
I had two other favourites amongst the diverse cast.  Megan was brilliant – snarky, sharp and so protective and complex.  All the characters were amazing, but I truly loved the relationship between her and Nessa.  And then there’s Anto, who was just lovely – a breath of sweetness and goodness in a sea of grey and prickly characters.  
But Connor was a total and utter prick.  I can't even begin to describe his dickdom – his ruthlessness, his illusions of grandeur, his confused lust...  Yeah.  Dick.
Nessa was the main narrator, but I feel the POV jumped every so often – giving us little snippets into other characters' heads.  I found it a little confusing, disorientating even, at first – but I quickly grew to love it.  I loved the twisted glimpses of the Grey Land, the fights, the little clues of what would come...  
Seriously though – this world...  The very idea behind it all is breathtaking.  I literally adored it – it was unique and brilliant and shocking.  I might not know much about traditional Sídhe lore in Ireland – though I'll be researching the hell out of it now because it's fascinating! – but I fell in love during The Call.  The 'horses' and 'dogs' and 'clothes' made of human victims... the fact the Sídhe are punishing the children for their banishment, because they just want to escape... They are a terrifying enemy, but things aren't always black and white or rainbows.  Sometimes it's just... grey.
Even without The Call being just the kind of book I've wanted since before I started blogging, it's still amazing.  It's addictive and exciting and unique and beautiful and breathtaking and by the Cauldron I want more more more.  I just cannot tell you how much I adored The Call and how utterly desperate I am to get my greedy little hands on the next book.  Because, my God, it was so good.  This book was so damned amazing and I won't forget it and it is just a book I've waited so long for, anticipated, and yet somehow did not let me down one single bit - Peadar, I love you so much for this.  Crom, this review has got so long it's practically a novel itself – so I'll just stop now with one plea: Read The Call.  YA needs more diversity and The Call is a stunning example of how characters with 'disabilities' can be just as – maybe even, dare I say, a hell of a lot more – amazing than those without.  So read it, be amazed, be left speechless, and then spread the word once you've got your breath back, because The Call is too good to miss.

Star Rating:
5 Out of 5

Read this book if you liked:
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Grisha by Leigh Bardugo
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin         

Happy Reading
* This book was received from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review
** Quotes used are from a proof copy and may have been changed in the finished book

1 comment:

Derekca said...

Great review Megan, I really enjoyed it. Just picked up this book myself and yours was the most engaging review I've found, so thanks!